Fragrant chicken with vibrant Asian slaw in lettuce wraps

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I’ve made this dish twice, once for my husband and once for my best friend. Both times I was met with amazing feedback, and I have to admit, it’s one of my best yet. I’m a huge fan of Asian flavours and this really has it all going on. It’s fresh, zingy and sweet. There are no carbs and the veggies are served raw so it’s super healthy. Using medium chillies in raw form adds a nice heat, not too much, but enough to let you know it’s an Asian dish. There is something fun about food you can eat with your hands, just load up the Romaine lettuce cups with crunchy Asian slaw and top with some sticky fragrant chicken. Roll it up and get stuck in.

This recipe is great for when you’re entertaining because everything can be prepared in advance. The slaw can be prepped and stored in a container in the fridge (undressed), the slaw dressing can be made and popped in a jar with a lid (no need to refrigerate). Prepare the chicken by slicing and covering with the marinade in a glass bowl, wrap with cling and store in the fridge until needed. When you’re ready you can have everything ready and on the table within minutes.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, because some of it is store cupboard stuff and the rest is mostly just veggies. I’ll be entirely honest, the preparation takes a little longer than most dishes I cook, but it’s just a case of finely slicing the veggies. Why not stick the radio on and practice your knife skills one afternoon? You’ll be glad you spent the time when you taste how delicious this dish is. It’s like a party in your mouth, seriously!

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Just look at those colours. This dish makes me long for those fresh spring days that we all know are just around the corner. Why not brighten up a dull February day with this vibrant dinner?  If you’re veggie or vegan, this dish will work equally well with Quorn or Tofu. You can also leave out the nuts if need be, but they do add another welcome texture if you can have them.

Ingredients:

Marinade for chicken: 

  • 60ml teriyaki marinade (the thin kind)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 medium chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 Romaine lettuces

Asian slaw:

  • 6 leaves of red cabbage, very finely sliced
  • 150g Bean sprouts
  • 1 medium red chilli, very finely sliced
  • 7 spring onions, very finely sliced
  • 1/2 a large carrot, , very finely sliced
  • 20g freshly chopped coriander
  • Small handful of roughly chopped peanuts

Reserve 2 finely sliced spring onions, a small handful of chopped coriander and a tsp of sesame seeds for garnish on the chicken once cooked

Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey

Instructions:

  1. Start by preparing the marinade for the chicken. Add the marinade ingredients to a glass bowl and add the diced chicken. Stir well to ensure the chicken is fully coated. Cover and store until needed.
  2. Chop the romainne lettuce in half, using the top sections (they look like little cups), set aside on a large platter.
  3. Mix the ingredients for the slaw dressing together and place in a bowl/dressing jar on the platter with the lettuce.
  4. Chop all of the slaw ingredients (except the bean sprouts) add to a bowl, leaving out the peanuts for garnish. Combine the ingredients and place in a large pile on the platter with the lettuce cups. Garnish the slaw with chopped peanuts and fresh coriander.
  5. Heat a little oil in a large pan (or wok), add the chicken and pour in any access marinade. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Mix the cornflour with a tbsp of water and stir this though the chicken until the sauce thickens.
  7. Place the cooked chicken on a serving plate and top with the spring onion, coriander and sesame seeds.
  8. Serve the chicken with the Romaine lettuce wraps and the Asian slaw, garnished with peanuts.

No bake cashew and coconut energy balls

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I’m always on the look out for healthy snacks that taste great, who isn’t? I remember when someone first recommended Nakd bars to me, I thought they looked unappetizing and like they would taste bland. To my surprise I actually liked them, the Cashew Cookie one being my favorite. Here’s my own version, but it’s seemingly trendy to make them into balls instead of bars, so that’s what I went with.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler, chuck everything into a food processor and whizz it up until you have thick sticky large crumbs. Roll them into balls using slightly damp hands and you’re done. Much more satisfying than buying them. I’m going to have a play around with flavour combinations because the possibilities are endless.

I made these using mostly ingredients I already had and only had to buy the dates, so they were super cheap. I love the combination of sticky sweetness from the dates and the crunch from the cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. They make the perfect afternoon sweet treat, let’s face it, who doesn’t get a hankering for something sweet at around 3pm.

Ingredients

  • 250g soft pitted dates
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50g unsalted cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (white or black)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles big stick crumbs
  2. Scoop out the mixture onto a clean worksurface and using damp palms, roll the mixture into even balls
  3. Store in an airtight container. They will last longer in the fridge

 

Mushroom toasts with bacon and bone marrow

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I’m kicking off my first recipe post on Nicole’s Kitchen Diary with these delicious mushroom toasts. I was lucky enough to salvage this recipe from my old blog, all thanks to my friend Joe who pointed me to a website that periodically scans and takes snap shots of sites. Lucky for you guys, because it’s one of my favorites and would make the perfect Valentine’s Day starter. Roasted bone marrow spooned over garlicky mushrooms and salty jewels of bacon and perfumed woody thyme… what’s not to love?

The inspiration for this recipe came from one of the best kitchen books you could own, The Flavour Thesaurus. It’s always on hand in my kitchen. If you’re a foodie and you’ve not heard of it or read it, I urge you to order a copy. As the title suggests, the book is set out like a thesaurus and is a bible of parings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook.

 Ingredients

  • 250g mushrooms (I used Chestnut and Shiitake), roughly chopped
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
  • Splash of white wine
  • 2 disks of femur bone (bone marrow) – ask your butcher for this
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 tbsp each of butter and olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Turn the oven on to the highest temperature and pop in the bone marrow (in a roasting tin). It will take about 35-40 minutes.
  2. When the marrow has only 10 minutes from being done heat the butter and olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Then add a splash of wine and allow to cook until reduced. Season to taste.
  5. Pop the slices of sourdough bread under the grill. Remove when lightly toasted and whilst still hot rub them with a garlic clove.
  6. Remove the bone marrow from the oven and carefully spoon out the soft marrow from the middle – stir this through the mushroom mix.
  7. Pile the mushroom mix on to the toasts and garnish with a little fresh thyme.
  8. Serve immediately.

Your setback is a platform for your comeback

I am the author (or was) of Miss Friday’s Feast, a food and cookery blog. I worked hard for five years to establish a blog that became home to many of my own recipes and ideas. The blog provided me with a space to air my views and share my love of food with the world.

Recently, for one reason or another (work, my two-year old, or just lack of enthusiasm), I had neglected writing my blog and allowed my hosting account to lapse, which meant my blog was taken offline – a bloggers worst nightmare. I had various issues trying to reinstate it. Alas, it’s gone – the domain name, the website, the posts, the recipes, my photos and five years of hard work to establish something I was immensely proud of.

Having spent a few days/weeks grieving the loss, I figured I’d turn the negative into a positive. You’ve heard the phrase right… ‘your set-back is a platform for your comeback’. So, here I am starting a fresh with Nicole’s Kitchen Diary.

I’m reading an interesting book at the moment about how success happens, it’s called Black Box Thinking (by Matthew Syed) and I have to say, it’s true that a progressive attitude towards failure  turns out to be the cornerstone for success. So I’ve made sure that I apply the lessons I’ve learnt from this set-back. I have set my domain subscription to auto-renew, meaning it will not lapse if I (foolishly) forget to pay the renewal. I have also decided to keep my own back-ups of my recipes, photos and posts, something I should have done from the start.

When deciding to start a new blog I did what you would expect, I read articles and watched YouTube videos “10 things to consider before starting a blog” and “how to set your blog apart” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. I had to find my niche… or did I?

The web is saturated with healthy living blogs – In fact, run a quick Google search and you’ll get 5,480,000 results. I’m not knocking them, heck I read plenty of them, but that’s not me. I love cake too much, but I’m not the best baker, so that’s not going to work either. Veggie, vegan, raw food, free-from? – Let’s just stop there. Whilst I am a huge fan of healthy food, I’m not even entertaining the idea of cutting any food group out of my diet. So finding a niche was proving difficult. However, something I am hugely passionate about it a balanced lifestyle, one that involves fruit, vegetables, proteins, carbs, dairy, sugar (in moderation) and staying active. I think I just found that niche – beautifully balanced.

I decided on the name of Nicole’s Kitchen Diary as a total rip off of Nigel Slator. I’m a big fan of his general attitude towards food, a seemingly relaxed, non fussy approach. He eats what he has in the fridge or garden and experiments with flavours and textures. I also love his writing style – it’s free-flowing and liberating. I like the idea of being able to dip in-and-out of something like a blog. I’m not nearly disciplined enough in my personal life to operate to a schedule or routine. I have a two-year old which often makes the very notion of routine a laughable idea.

So, take me as you find me, haphazard, unscheduled and unapologetic.